This traveling show is the first UK retrospective of Cage’s artwork. During the 1960’s the avant-garde composer John Cage began making prints. He created a numerical system based on the i ching which allowed him to introduce chance into his work. The system determined almost every aspect of an artwork – the choice of paper, where on the paper to make marks, paint colours, brushes and subject matter.
“Most people who believe that I’m interested in chance don’t realise that I use chance as a discipline. They think I use it as a way of giving up making choices. But my choices consist in choosing what questions to ask.”
The show includes a film of Cage working at a print studio in Mountain Lake, Virginia. He’s using a variety of feathers and bird wings as brushes to paint around stones from a nearby river. The results have a distinctive quality – formulaic but unpredictable. Reminds me very much of children’s drawings – raw mark making but in the context of a strict formula. The show runs until November 14th. Read an article on the show by The Guardian.
New River Watercolour Series I, No.3, 1988
Not Wanting to Say Anything About Marcel, 1969
75 Stones, 1989
Global Village 37-48 (Diptych), 1989
New River Watercolour Series IV, No.6, 1988
Image: Watercolour on paper © The John Cage Trust